Every runner wants to increase their overall mileage. Unfortunately, many beginner runners let their enthusiasm override their body’s needs. As a result, they may develop running injuries that cut their miles per week down to zero.
Building mileage takes time, consistency, and workouts to improve your stamina. You don’t have to wait months to see results, though. With a few weeks of regular training, you can build mileage and become a stronger, faster runner.
Our team of physical therapists at Runners’ Edge Alaska created the ultimate guide to adding mileage while minimizing your risk of injuries. Read on for everything you need to know about optimal training load, raising your baseline mileage, and using training cycles to enhance your workouts.
How to Safely Increase Mileage
We know how much you love running. We love it, too, and we understand how exciting it is to push your boundaries and beat your record run.
Rather than dramatically increasing your training volume and causing overuse injuries, consider our top three tips for expanding your running mileage healthily and sustainably.
1. Listen to Your Body
Your body speaks to you, even if you don’t take time to listen. When it comes to achieving a higher mileage, though, you should be all ears.
Find the balance between exertion and recovery when working toward a mileage increase. You can easily boost your mileage by 15 to 20% one week, only to discover that your base mileage feels challenging the next.
2. Don’t Push Your Limits to the Point of Injury
At Runners’ Edge Alaska, we’re all about helping you reach your maximum potential. Still, we know that runners — especially injury-prone runners — are at a higher risk when chasing the next great runner’s high.
Most runners injure themselves by increasing their mileage too quickly. The physical strain places extra stress on your body, while the intense training schedule doesn’t give your body time to recover.
To minimize the risk of injury, focus on training plans with:
- A realistic workload
- A comfortable starting point
- At least one long run per week
For example, you might increase your mileage by 10 to 15% one day per week compared to the week before.
Most importantly, prioritize recovery weeks and lower-mileage runs throughout your training cycle to give your body time to adjust to the additional workload.
3. Incorporate Strength Training to Build Endurance
All too often, our clients tell us, “Running is my only workout.” While we admire the dedication to hitting the pavement, trail, or treadmill, even the most elite runner needs more than daily jogs to stay healthy.
Cross-training, or mixing strength and endurance exercises into your daily training schedule, can help:
- Align your body
- Improve speed
- Prevent injuries
Resistance exercises help strengthen and stabilize your muscles, joints, and connective tissues, while compound movements enhance mobility and agility.
What Are the Best Strength Training Exercises for Increasing Mileage?
Runners need an integrated combination of targeted and compound movements to improve coordination, boost speed, and rack up higher miles per week. That said, you don’t need an exercise science degree to create customized, high-quality workouts.
Instead, build your workouts around simple, easily-mastered movements, such as:
You can stick with the familiar variants or mix up your movements to keep your workouts fresh, your muscles challenged, and your training routine energized. Try adding cross-training workouts into your routine three to five times per week, then substitute the exercises for a walk, yoga class, or another low-impact activity during your recovery week.
Should I Increase Weekly Running Mileage by 10%?
Avid runners worldwide swear by the “Golden Rule” of running. According to the guideline, both novice and elite runners should only increase their weekly mileage by 10% to prevent injury. However, like any running advice, you should take it with a grain of salt.
Instead of rigidly following the 10% rule, start with a consistent, low mileage plan for at least a month. As you add more mileage, tailor your sessions to suit your schedule.
Creating a Training Plan to Meet Your Running Goals
At Runners’ Edge Alaska, we know that every runner is training for their next record-breaking long run. That’s why we commit ourselves to strengthening, healing, and rehabilitating athletes at every level. If you’re ready to increase your mileage safely and sustainably, we can help. For more information on our physical therapy, rehabilitative services, and training programs, please contact our Runners’ Edge Alaska team today at 907-929-9009.